Car Exhaust

The Tesla Emissions Testing System

I’ve contemplated writing this blog post or not and have decided to go ahead and do so. This post will be a bit crass for my blog, but, at the same time, the situation is worthy of mention. So, what in the world am I going to talk about? Well, a major US car company, Tesla, decided for some unknown reason to do something very juvenile, even adolescent.

In a recent software update to our Model S, Tesla added an Emissions Testing System: the fart option. Yes. You read that correctly. You can have the audio system play the sound of a person passing gas. The sound can be played when you use the turn signal or press a button on the steering wheel, which ever you prefer.

Additionally, you have a selection of gaseous eruptions from which to choose. You may pick your favorite sound or have the car randomize them at each gas-producing event. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Steve was elated with the discovery. I must say, it was not just incredulous that Tesla did this, it was initially quite hysterical. The quality of the fart sounds is high fidelity and completely realistic.

Emissions Testing System 02

But let’s think this through. Tesla had to have engineers write the software for this. They had to have a recording studio presumably record a number of fart sounds. Let that sink in. They had to have the marketing department discuss whether or not they should add this to the cars, what to call it, the name for each fart sound, and how to best implement the “Emissions Testing System.”

Seriously. This is just bizarre1 .

What information is Tesla collecting about its user base? What does whether or not a customer uses the fart system at all tell them about the customer? What does the length of time a customer chooses to play with the fart system before becoming bored with it tell them about the customer? (Steve played with it much too long, in my humble option!) Or is this purely a marketing ploy to get customers talking about their cars to the public as I am doing now?

Oh, and, I mustn’t forget the name of the fart system itself. Tesla calls it the Emissions Testing System! After telling him I’m going to write a blog post about it, Steve is going to go play with the Emissions Testing System now on his way to work.

I am reminded about a meeting I attended at work many years ago. My boss was a prankster. He and a colleague called me into a meeting in which he surreptitiously used a whoopie cushion. I had no idea this was a gag. It sounded authentic.

After several gas-passing “events,” to which I didn’t respond at all, my boss leaned slightly to the side, and, with a notable grimace on his face, used the whoopie cushion for a longer, louder, unavoidable “event” after which he subtly expressed relief. Scrambling for an appropriate response, I said, after a bit of an awkward pause, “Do you need some personal time, alone?”

Both Kenn, my boss, and Merrilee, a colleague, erupted in laughter as he exposed his trick. They had worked very hard to keep straight faces until I responded. Yes, we all laughed so hard the tears flowed. Working for Kenn was never dull. There are stories–many stories! Some, like this one, should best go to my grave!


  1. Additionally, they added other more traditional “games” to the car system as well.